So, what is this all about? Well Google let you create sites that they then host for you, for free. So let's take a look because do you really get something for nothing?
- first you need a Google account, if you have one, sign in, if not get yourself registered and signed in. However do make sure you are happy with their T's & C's. By that I don't mean just their Terms and Conditions but also their Data Usage Policy and all the legal stuff etc
- when you are ready then hit the Create button on https://sites.google.com/, you just need to make the necessary selections of Template, Name, Location, Theme and Description and hit Create at the top of the screen and you're done!
- if you look at your new site via https://sites.google.com/site/<location-you-chose>/ you will be able to edit pages etc. If you look at the same address from another browser where you are not signed into your Google account you will see it as the public see it
- from here on you just need to stay logged in to your Google account. You can add pages, edit content and even change the Theme. Whilst there are buttons for editing and adding everything else in under the More menu. If you go to Manage Site you can change the Theme as well as other more structural things.
Right, so now we have built a site and can add content. One thing to note is that at the bottom of the site there is a Google footer saying "Powered by Google Sites" as well as some other Google bits. So whilst the content is clearly yours, it is worth noting that you are still advertising Google. Further more you don't have as much flexibility as if you wrote the html yourself, however it is easy to get up and running. Before signing up for AdSense do make sure you understand what you are signing up to, it is all too easy to make mistakes with advertising in Google.
All good so far, but how do you link your domain name to the Google site so that it looks like you own and run a professional site? Well, you need to do the following:
- go to your Google site, logged in to your Google account
- select "Manage Site" from the "More" button, then on the left select "Web Address"
- type in something like www.example.com and click Add. If you get a format not supported message then make sure you leave off the http bit and any slashes so you just have letters and dots as per my example
- the next stage will vary depending on your domain registrar but you basically need to create a CNAME DNS entry pointing to ghs.google.com you will usually find this in "Advanced DNS". However note that it can take up to 24 hours for the DNS change to propagate everywhere. It is also worth checking your A Records, if you have a www one then this will need removing, at least this is what I had to do.
That's it you now have your domain pointing to a Google hosted site!